Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Feeling Wild and Crazy?

Okay, so maybe not wild and CRAZY. Wild and nutty?

Wild Rice and Walnuts, I mean!

This is one of the different salads we prepared over Memorial Day weekend for a Sunday dinner party for around 30 people. It originated from The Silver Palate Cookbook, as staple in many American kitchens. It is incredibly easy to make -- and to triple to quadruple the portions. It can be -- and should be -- made in advance, clearing the kitchen of messy bowls and pots before the gathering begins. The greatest added benefit of the dish? Very low in fat, clean flavors, full of fiber, and featuring very healthy ingredients like wild rice, walnuts, raisins, orange zest.

My family has been making this for as long as I can remember. We've made a few adjustments, like using less olive oil than the original recipe called for. I also like to amp up the flavors with plenty of orange zest and juice, mint, and proper seasoning. Throw in some extra golden raisins and toasted walnuts (a new recent change -- we used to add pecans, per the original recipe, but I prefer toasted walnuts much more. Plus, they're healthier!).

I like this salad two to three days (or four, if it is still around) after it has been made. The flavors have melded together, the rice moist, and raisins super plump. I've been known to eat a heaping cup of it for breakfast. Hey, it is at least a relatively balanced meal!

Nutted Wild Rice
adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook

1 c (1/2 lb) raw wild rice
5 1/2 c defatted chicken stock
1 c walnut halves
1 c yellow raisins
Grated rind of 1-2 oranges
1/2 c chopped fresh mint
4 scallions, thinly sliced
About 2 tbsp olive oil (add one and adjust to taste)
1/3 c fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tsp salt (taste as you add to make sure proper balance)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Place rice in a strainer and rinse well in cold water to cleanse. Put into a heavy medium saucepan and add stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking uncovered for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, check to see if it is done. Drain in a towel-lined colander and transfer to bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and toss together gently. Adjust seasonings and let sit at least 2 hours (I like to let it sit overnight) to let flavors develop. Serve at room temperature. Excellent with grilled lamb or beef and roasted vegetables and a hearty green salad.

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